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Life in ah tent

Life in ah tent


If yuh never sleep under ah Tent, yuh miss ah good night rest. Scouting did it all foh me as ah youth.

Ah remember when Scouting was big in SVG. In Kingstown alone we had ‘de Sea Scouts,’ lickle youths dressed like Sailors and led by Charlie Small. Den those of us in Khaki Uniform: ‘Anglican’ led by ‘OB Browne; ‘Cat-Licks’ by Garnet Edwards; ‘Grammar School’ produced Fred Prescod, ah Queen Scout, de highest ranking. Lawyer Radix (Uncle) made scouting big foh Calliaqua. And den my All-me Matter (alma mater) of Scouts, Met-dis, led by Hubert Browne and Walter Cummings.

Scouts is way ah learn to light wood fire wid two grains ah matches, ‘need flour mek bakes and dumpling, cook, swim, rescue ah fake drowning person; den perform Artificial Respiration no, not Artificial Insemination! But “camping under ah Tent” was best of all: “dey’s none so slumbered as he who never slept under ah Tent.”

While camping in Bequia of all places, it rained “Cats’n’Red Rats!” in Port Elizabeth, our tent withstood de rain, but dat night ground water flushed us out. Our inexperienced Patrol Leader had ignored Camp Rule No 3: “dig ah trench around yuh tent!”. After dat, Rule No 3 became Rule No 1: “Dig dat Trench!” Remember to clean yuh head-drain. All those Rules we learned in Scouts. Every pull-it-to-kill leader should first be ahscouts, way s/he learn and practise de Scout Laws. Law No 1 : Ah Scout’s honour is to be trusted, No 2: Ah Scout does not tell Lie, period! No, “might lie sometimes, but not all de time.” Law No 3: Ah scout must be Accountable as in AIDC! No 4: Ah-counter-blow as in Pet-throw-Carib; and No 5: Account-able as in de NIS.

Lie-Za praising Doctor Friday foh de Pull-it-tek-all med-he-care-shun he prescribe foh Papa and de ULP: One table spoon of “Ah-counter-blow” before bed-time. Dat is to haunt dem in dey sleep!


So we right back to sleeping under ah tent. Ah went to I-dentify a parcel of land in de mountain and ran into my newest friend, Ras Coach-I. He is ah 68-year-ole farmer who looks more like 38. He allowed me to take ah photo of his home way he lives wid permission on private lands. De house is part timber and part canvas; galvanize roof from which he collects and stores drinking water. However, he lives next to ah stream wid clean running “Spring water”. Coach-I is ah Die-bet-ache who lost ah foot, de last time he checked his sugar it was nar-mal: “Nurse ask me way medication me ah tek?” he said. Den he pointed to a number of plants including Moringa, Sour Sop, Paw Paw, Aloe. He has a lovely vegetable garden: Corn, Ocro, Peas, Potato etc. He is Ras but eats Cray Fish from de stream. When ah questioned him about sleeping and lonliness, dah was when he told me he has ah solar panel and watches TV and DVD, listens to radio. What Luxury!

Coach-I lives in peace and comfort, but not his Brethren, Otis Lockhart ah Vincy-US citizen who chose to live peacefully wid his wife and two kids, in ah specially made Tent on his own property in Bequia. But de family were whisked away from dey Tent House and taken into Police Custody under all sorts ah false ah-Q-say-shun. Thankfully dey were later released widout ah single charge. How easily we welcome wid open arms, crooked Far-rainers posing as In-festors: Ottley Hall, Buccama, Can-One. Lie-Za wants to know way going on at Mount Wynn. But first she say. She wants Ah-counter-bill-at-tea! Ralph yuh hear? And wid dat is gone ah gone again.

One Love Bassy

Bassy Alexander is a land surveyor, folklorist and social commentator.